How Senior Care Communities Can Use Technology to Combat the Staffing Shortage
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, paired with widespread staff shortages, have contributed to staffing challenges in the senior care industry. In a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult, 19% of long-term care workers reported that they had quit their jobs since February 2020, while 69% reported that the national shortage of health care workers had affected them and their place of work.
In response to the staffing shortages, senior care facilities may turn to many outlets, including staffing agencies. But technology is also playing an important role in helping communities to better cope with this ongoing challenge.
Technology’s Response to the Staffing Shortage
Given the disruption and implications that staffing challenges have for the senior care industry, technology companies are working to offer solutions. Ryan Jeanneret, senior director, market intelligence for long term care at Omnicare, explains that the staffing challenges have providers worried about the stability of their facilities.
“According to the American Nurses Association, when facilities are adequately staffed, it means there are numerous benefits for the residents, including increased quality of care, reduced length of patient stays, and reduced number of preventable incidents such as falls and infections,” says Jeanneret.
“We know firsthand the struggles these organizations are facing and have been focused on ensuring that our thousands of long-term care customers are well-equipped to keep delivering quality care, despite being short staffed,” he says. “Every single one of our current offerings was developed and brought to market because at least one of our customers needed it.”
Katherine Wells, CEO of the senior care app Serenity Engage, similarly developed her solution out of necessity. When Wells’ mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 10 years ago, Wells discovered firsthand the challenge of managing multiple providers for a loved one. For 10 years, Wells managed 37 different service providers, coordinating care for both her mother and father. Wells found that communication was a major challenge.
“The only people who are consistent across the entire senior care journey are the older adults and their families,” says Wells. “Providers come in and out through that process. While the people are heroic, the system they work in is very siloed, outdated, and fragile,” explains Wells.
Technology Solutions for Staffing Challenges
Omnicare’s web-based platform, Omniview, helps facilities and communities connect with their pharmacy and manage their activities. “This allows staff to focus less on dealing with complicated systems, and instead spend more time providing exceptional care for their residents, which is crucial for facilities that may be facing staffing shortages,” says Jeanneret. Omnicare also offers Omnicell, an automated dispensing unit that gives staff faster access to medications and is designed to optimize patient care.
“The Serenity Engage app is a care coordination platform that streamlines communication and keeps everyone on the same page,” explains Wells. “Our goal is to make the lives of the care teams easier while keeping families in the loop.”
Wells explains that such coordination is particularly important given the global caregiver crisis. Staffing shortages mean staff may be coming in and out of facilities, and those staff may be undertrained. “We provide continuity of communication. Regardless of when caregivers come in and out, they can look at the channel of communication and see what’s going on and be caught up in minutes,” says Wells.
Choosing the Technology for Your Facility
These technologies are just a few examples of the many tools available to help facilities better navigate the staffing shortage. In addition to implementing good staff management and working to hire additional team members, facilities can use these tools to relieve the burdens placed on already strained teams.
When choosing technology, it’s important to look for solutions that integrate well with your existing platforms and workflows. If a program or app becomes one more thing for your staff to do during their shifts, it can actually increase staff workloads, no matter how well-intentioned its implementation is.
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